Interview With Dr John McDougall,The Starch solution book Giveaway and Oil-Free Carrot Cake. vegan recipe

The Starch Solution: Eat the Foods You Love, Regain Your Health, and Lose the Weight for Good! And thats what the book is about, powerful information packed in a few 100s of pages to achieve the best of health and lifestyle.

The book also contains almost 100 of Mary McDougall’s recipes, and a 7 day menu plant. Two thirds of the book talks about why a starch-centered diet, most commonly asked questions, statistics and success stories. There are references for every point. Information about protein, fats, soy, calcium, supplements, salt, sugar, glycemic index, salt, fatty acids and so much more.

The book is full of the information you can use to determine a diet for your health, or information you can use to answer questions that always come up in discussions about your diet choice. All without getting too wordy. It feels like a very well rounded reference book that should be on every plan based eaters bookshelf. And it lets you eat potatoes!

I would have loved some pictures with the recipes, but then the book isnt a recipe book. All the statistics and information will help you understand the changes needed and jump start the transition. Once, you are comfortable cooking this way, there are more recipe books, blogs and other options. I am also not so sure about placing a limit on the nuts, seeds (which is moderate consumption) and the minimal unrefined oil that we use right now. Especially since I also read earlier that he considers whole foods, even those with high concentrations of fats, to be health-promoting. However, people interested in losing weight should avoid nuts, nut butters, seeds, seed spreads, avocados, and olives.
I would love to hear from you all what you think about a low-fat plant based, no oil, limited nuts and seeds diet.. You can join in on the conversation on the blog’s Facebook page.
The Interview:

Thank you for taking to the time to answer my questions Dr McDougall. It is an absolute honor to be able to chat with you. I write a whole foods based vegan, Indian, food blog and would love to share about your new book with my readers.

1. What is Starch and Why is the book called the Starch solution?

Starches are foods that store a large amount of energy in the form of long chains of simple sugars. This energy is ideal for human health and also provide the protein, vitamins and minerals we need. Common starches are: potatoes, sweet potatoes, rice, corn and beans. All large populations of trim, healthy people, throughout verifiable human history, have obtained the bulk of their calories from starch. Examples of once thriving people include Japanese, Chinese, and other Asians eating sweet potatoes, buckwheat, and/or rice, Incas in South America eating potatoes, Mayans and Aztecs in Central America eating corn, and Egyptians in the Middle East eating wheat.

The book is called the starch solution because starch is the most important ingredient in the human diet.

Vegetarian, vegan, plant-based, plant-strong, etc. mean little in terms of human and environmental health. A pure vegan could live on Cokes and potato chips and many do.

2. What is the problem with dairy, meat, animal products.

People are starch-eaters or “starchivores.” We are not designed to live well off of meat, dairy and other animal producrs. Meat is for carnivores (cats), and dairy is the ideal for a young calf. These wrong foods consumed in usual quantities make people fat and sick.

3. What is the problem with some of the other weight loss programs.

Weight loss programs ask you to be hungry (portion controlled diets) or to become sick and lose your appetite (low-carb diets). These are painful and unsustainable programs.

4. The diet plan in the book calls for eating least processed foods, a good amount of whole food starch, plenty of vegetables, no animal products and no added fat. The recipes in the book however use canned and packaged products, all purpose flour and other processed options.

The McDougall Diet seeks the biggest bang for the buck. This is not a religion but a practical way for people to return their lost health and appearances. Ease of preparation trumps perfection of ingredients.

5. You also mention not using Soy in any of the over processed forms(burgers, fake meats, things containing soy isolates) and limiting the natural, less processed Soy options too. Quite a few recipes in the book use Tofu, soy milk, and could lead to most meals containing soy.

The instructions are clear: traditional soy foods in small amounts are acceptable for most people (like a little tofu added as a condiment to a rice dish or a little soy milk on your cold cereal). Soy foods are rich in fat and protein and therefore are used in small amounts. Fake meats and cheeses are chemical concoctions made from isolated soy protein and a few other ingredients – they are not food, are health-damaging, and should be avoided.

6. How much should we worry about added salt and sugar.

People are designed for reasons of survival to be salt and sugar seekers (look at the tip of the tongue). We need sugar which is naturally found in starches and fruits. Our desire for salt insures adequate intake of minerals. The food industry knows of our natural desires and feeds us high quantities of concentrated sugar and salt, which can become health problems. However, a small amount of either used on the surface of foods adds great pleasure with little or no risk for most.

7. Does this diet need added supplementation and why should people stay away from supplements.

Supplements are isolated concentrated nutrients sold in pills and other forms. They create nutrition imbalances within the body (and the cells). Studies consistently show that common vitamin preparations of vitamin A, folic acid, and vitamin E increase the risk of heart disease, cancer, and overall death by 20% to 30%.
8. What about fatty acids. What is the ideal ratio of omega 3 and 6 and the best sources.

Only plants make essential fats (omega-3 and 6). By natural design, starches, vegetables and fruits have the ideal amounts and proportions.

9. Why limit nuts, seeds, and fruits.

Nuts and seeds are about 80% fat. The fat you eat is the fat you wear. These are often the very rich foods that are the downfall for many fat vegans. Too much fruit can mean too much simple sugar for some people. I recommend about 3 fruits a day.

10. Most Indians are already vegetarians, and there is a feel good factor about not consuming meats, that make the change to eliminate dairy difficult. What would you tell them about the need to eliminate all dairy from the diet.

Dairy is “liquid meat.” Their impacts on health, animal welfare, and the environment are similar.

11. What does a typical day look like for you. What is on your plate for breakfast, lunch, snack and dinner.

I eat simple:

breakfast is oatmeal with a little fruit

lunch and dinner are soup and bread, beans and rice, sweet potatoes and broccoli, etc..

I recommend people find 1 to 5 meals they like (starch based) and repeat their favorites over again.

You can also get a summary of the book in this hour long talk on youtube by Dr McDougall here.
For more questions, you can join in and ask away on the Live Teleclass with Dr McDougall via Skype, or phone on August 1.
I decided to try a no oil dessert recipe. Though there is very little oil in most of my cakes/quick breads/cookies, I have not yet eliminated the oil(usually virgin coconut oil) completely except from banana bread/cake. The original carrot cake recipe calls for grated carrots which are cooked with liquid and dates, cooled, mixed with flour and cooked. I pureed the carrots instead and used whole grain flours. The resulting cake was surprisingly soft and moist, For an even fluffier texture, use half all purpose flour as the recipe in the book.

Oil Free Carrot Cake recipe.
A similar Carrot Cake Recipe from McDougall newsletter here.
1/2 cup carrots
5 dates
1/4 cup agave
1/2 cup water
a generous inch of cinnamon, ginger, cloves, cardamom powders
1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
2/3 cup flour (I used whole wheat + spelt flour)
1/2 tsp baking powder
a few Tablespoons raisins and chopped walnuts(optional)

Soak the dates in water for 15 minutes.
Puree the carrots, dates with the water.
In a pan, add the carrot date puree and bring to a boil on low heat.
Add the agave and spices and cook for 10 minutes on low to thicken a bit.
Cool the puree. Add vinegar to it and mix.
In a bowl mix the flours and baking powder.
Add the puree and mix till just about combined.
Add raisins and chopped walnuts and fold in(optional)
Bake in preheated 365 degrees F for 35 minutes for two 3.5 inch ramekins, a few minutes longer for 1 pan, until a toothpick form the center comes out clean.

I am giving away a copy of The Starch Solution. Giveaway ends Saturday August 4, midnight PST.(US only)

To enter-
1. Leave me a comment on this post. and tell me if you have read any of Dr McDougall’s books or followed his diet plan , Or your thoughts about what makes a healthy diet. Please leave an email to get in touch with you if you are not a blogger.
Also, do subscribe to the newsletter for articles and recipes.

Carrots and dates puree

For More of The book recipe previews and similar recipes, see Susan’s fat free Vegan blog here. and on his website, where recipes can be found in the newsletter archives.

Disclaimer: The Starch solution was sent to me by February partners, so I could talk about it with Dr McDougall. My current diet is plant based but not entirely oil-free. Like every other person, I find facts and information which make sense to me, and lead me to make changes to my diet every now and then. Its a learning process every day. I do not claim to know everything or claim that my diet is perfect.

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  1. says

    I’ve never read any of Dr. McDougall’s books, but I do eat lots of plants and no meat or dairy! I get so frustrated with my friends who look at my plate and say, “how can you eat all those carbs and not be fat?!!?” I just look at their plates and say, “Why are you surprised that you’re struggling with weight when you eat all that fatty meat and cheese?”

  2. says

    Wow, love this recipe! It looks so delicious and moist:-) Your addition of dates to the recipe sound wonderful! Looks beautiful, Hugs, Terra

  3. says

    I have never read any of Dr. McDougall’s books either. My youngest daughter (12) has been a vegetarian for a year now, and my oldest daughter (21) and her husband have been vegetarians for many years. I have been green juicing this past year and love it. I found the article to be extremely helpful in better understanding some of the ins and outs of eating healthy. Looking forward to reading more. Blessings…

    • says

      Thanks. If you get time do listen to his talk on youtube which i have linked on this post. it covers some of the topics in muc more detail and answers more questions.

  4. says

    Love the cake.I haven’t read his books and I went oil free last month and also dairy free and the changes I have noticed are enormous plus I follow a high plant based diet and eat healthy starches. And lots of green smoothies.

    • says

      Thanks Sharanya. Indeed just cutting out the animal products helped us a lot. I think oil free is not that far-fetched for us too. Its interesting how our brains and tastes have evolved over the last 2 years.

  5. Ellery says

    I really really want this book!! I almost got it a few months ago, but wasn’t able to. I have another one of his books, but this one seems like it would be more useful for me personally. I agree with his view on a healthy diet. I eat plant-based with as little oil and added salt and sugar as possible.

    • says

      Thats amazing Ellery. I hope you win too! A lot of the book is covered in his newsletters and the youtube talk that i have linked up. Do give it a go when you get time.

  6. Linda says

    I wonder how Dr. McDougall would respond to Dr. Natashia Campbell McBride’s assertion that a vegan diet will evetually mak eyou ill and is only good for fasting. She has a diet plan for healing the gut called GAPS. I was vegan for seven years and felt wonderful. After giving up veganism, I now have ulcerative colitis and am so miserable with pain. I keep trying to go back to it but can’t tolerate nuts and beans or anything raw or especially fiberous. Dr. McBride says that years of vegan diet harmed my intestines.

  7. says

    Mmmm that carrot cake looks amazing!

    I always find it interesting all the opinions on dieting/eating even the opinions on living a vegan lifestyle vary a great deal….I am sure some of his concepts are fitting and beneficial and others may not work for everyone (I am not sure I could give up my nuts and seeds). Thanks for sharing Richa, it was interesting!

    • says

      I know right. I think this diet definitely helps reverse and prevent lifestyle diseases like heart disease and diabetes, but there are quite a few conflicting theories out there within plant based fats.

  8. says

    what an interesting interesting post! i’m doing the exact opposite! a grain free diet – the Specific Carb Diet! It calls for a lot of meat and cheese – i’m doing it vegan though, so basically a lot of fruit, veggies, and nuts!

    • says

      That is awesome that you are maintaining plant based Caralynn:) I agree with almost all of the other points except the oils and healthy fats.

    • says

      You sure can. the original recipe calls for both dates and raisins. I am not fond of raisins, so i skipped them :). replace the dates with 1/4 cup soaked raisins. let me know how it turns out.

  9. says

    Sounds pretty interesting, and I think it may be great for some people, especially those who do not have a healthy and/or plant-based diet. Personally, I think it is all about balance and not going overboard in one direction or the other.

    P.S. The carrot cake looks amazing!

  10. Vaishali Ramjee says

    I believe eating whole hearty foods and always reading product labels. I come from a vegeterian Indian household. So, I am blessed to have been introduced to eating amazing vegetables in different ways. My favorite is my Moms eggplant, potato and tomato curry with a lot of spices. Spices especially turmeric is very beneficial to your health:)

    Vaishali Ramjee

  11. says

    I’ve never read any of their books but I’ve consulted their website many times and have followed several of their recipes. Always good stuff!
    Love your recipes too…many thanks!

  12. says

    This book looks great, I find I feel MUCH better not eating animals and animal products, it was the only diet that worked to lose 17 pounds after I had my son, and my LDL cholesterol dropped significantly as well. My parents need to try this diet, too, and if I win the book I am going to give it to them after I read it!!

    Thanks for a great giveaway, and I do want to try those muffins!!

    Vegan Fazool blog

  13. says

    I have never read any of his books but I listened to his book summary and I would love to win his book! I have been a vegetarian for about 6 months now because I am trying to become a vegan.

  14. says

    Have never taken the jump and try the McDougall system, would have a hard time with giving up eggs. Would love to read it completely. Thanks for the opportunity.

  15. says

    I haven’t read any of Dr Mcdougalls books but would definately be interested. I have been on a gluten free diet for the last year and feel great. Not bloated anymore. I would love to learn more about starches.
    thank you!

  16. says

    I haven’t read any of Dr. McDougalls books but this one interests me. I am a lifelong vegetarian and I mostly follow a mediterranean diet of whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and healthy fats. I think bodies all work differently and some people will do better on a high protein diet, while others don’t require as much protein.

  17. says

    I’ve cooked recipes from Dr. McDougall’s cookbooks before, but this book looks very interesting. I’ve been a vegetarian for a long time, but made the switch to veganism after being diagnosed with a milk allergy earlier this year (after years of being sick all the time and not knowing why). I find that my natural eating habits fall mostly in line with McDougall’s suggestions, but sometimes I find myself crinkling my nose at how strict he is. I’m interested in reading this book to get more of an informed opinion on the subject!

  18. says

    I have read Dr. McDougall’s Max weight loss book. I found it years ago and it has survived my many book purges. I believe in his principles and because of him (and Dr Caldwell) I changed to a plant based diet 3 years ago. I also have some of his McDougall Made Easy & Irresistible dvd’s and it is really nice to see how he and Mary interact and I love his lessons on health. I actually love him and Mary. His diet is number one and best for long lasting health. I am interested in this book so I can improve my health.

    • says

      Thanks for the comment Rhona. We chose the diet for ethical reasons. Because of constant health/nutrition queries, we keep finding so much health related information and how good a whole foods plant based diet can be. it feels good to find validation from different perspectives.

  19. says

    I haven’t read any of his books but have been following a healthy vegan diet for six years now and often wonder if the information I have relied on for years is outdated. Would love to read his book and gain some new understanding!

  20. says

    i haven’t read any of his books (i wish i had time haha), but i do follow his diet ideology… i’ve noticed based on my own experience that using oil in my cooking makes me feel a bit sick so his teachings coincide a lot with what i go by :)
    email is mkbell at

  21. says

    I have not read any of his books but this is my next planned book to read. I have followed a plant based diet for about a year now. It has changed my life. I also eat clean (no added sugar or oil). Thanks for the oppurtunity :)

  22. says

    I have not read any of his books. I believe that a healthy diet is mostly made up of plant-based foods and few, if any, processed foods.

    kgn1588 at gmail dot com

  23. says

    It’s been only 2 months since I started raw juicing and slowly changing the way I cook and bake. I just came from Hearth & Soul hop and I will definitely make this recipe. It sounds delicious.

    Thanks for sharing all this great information,

  24. says

    You did a nice job with this interview, a good amount of information and insight. I like that you put the carrot cake in ramekins–brilliant serving size. Thanks for sharing on Hearth & Soul Hop. :)

  25. says

    I have been doing the paleo lifestyle for a few weeks now and came across this book.

    I’m not sure we were designed to eat only plants, but I’m a little burnt out on the amount of meat paleo requires.

    I do feel much better since eliminating grain, and do eat potatoes once a week despite them not being ok.

    I’m curious what you think of a paleo lifestyle vs a vegan diet?

    I’m ordering this book from Amazon, as a parent I feel like I need to be feeding my children the best and at the moment I’m hearing a lot of “meat again mom?!”

    • says

      Hi Susan,
      I chose a Vegan diet for ethical reasons. I do read a bit about nutrition every now and then and am convinced that a plant based diet is a great diet for humans in this day and age, if we take a little time to know about nutritional needs and adjust our meals accordingly.
      This book has a lot of facts, statistics and examples to prove the same about a whole foods unprocessed vegan diet and can help you with the stats.
      However, there can be exceptions because of medical reasons/intolerances interfering with getting the best nutrition from a generic plant based diet.

      Please do read this article about if people do need meat by TheVeganRd here

      I hope you can find the foods that work best for you and your family.

  26. says

    I have heard of Dr. McDougall! I love him! I have not read his book though. This recipe looks amazing! Do you think I could make it gluten free? I have celiac. Thanks so much!!! :)

  27. Karen says

    Hi Richa,
    I have so many carrots in my fridge right now and I could only think of your blog and many recipes that include carrots. I want to give this cake a try but I don’t have agave or dates. Could I substitute those with organic honey and jaggery?


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